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ASH; The Automated Security Helper


The security helper tool was created to help you reduce the probability of a security violation in a new code, infrastructure or IAM configuration by providing a fast and easy tool to conduct preliminary security check as early as possible within your development process.

  • It is not a replacement of a human review nor standards enforced by your team/customer.
  • It uses light, open source tools to maintain its flexibility and ability to run from anywhere.
  • ASH is cloning and running different open-source tools, such as: git-secrets, bandit, Semgrep, Grype, Syft, nbconvert, npm-audit, checkov, cdk-nag and cfn-nag. Please review the tools LICENSE before usage.

ASH change advisory

We are currently working on a re-architecture of ASH targeting a single-container architecture as well as documentation to go along with it.

Supported frameworks

The security helper supports the following vectors:

  • Code
    • Git
      • git-secrets - Find api keys, passwords, AWS keys in the code
    • Python
      • bandit - finds common security issues in Python code.
      • Semgrep - finds common security issues in Python code.
      • Grype - finds vulnerabilities scanner for Python code.
      • Syft - generating a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) for Python code.
    • Jupyter Notebook
      • nbconvert - converts Jupyter Notebook (ipynb) files into Python executables. Code scan with Bandit.
    • JavaScript; NodeJS
      • npm-audit - checks for vulnerabilities in Javascript and NodeJS.
      • Semgrep - finds common security issues in JavaScript code.
      • Grype - finds vulnerabilities scanner for Javascript and NodeJS.
      • Syft - generating a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) for Javascript and NodeJS.
    • Go
      • Semgrep - finds common security issues in Golang code.
      • Grype - finds vulnerabilities scanner for Golang.
      • Syft - generating a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) for Golang.
    • C#
      • Semgrep - finds common security issues in C# code.
    • Bash
      • Semgrep - finds common security issues in Bash code.
    • Java
      • Semgrep - finds common security issues in Java code.
      • Grype - finds vulnerabilities scanner for Java.
      • Syft - generating a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) for Java.
  • Infrastructure


To start using ash please make sure to install and configure the following:

  • Tools installed to run Linux containers, such as Finch, Rancher Desktop, Podman Desktop, or Docker Desktop.
    • This can be any command-line interface (CLI) + container engine combination; there is nothing in ASH that requires a specific container runtime.
    • If on Windows, you will also likely need Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) installed as a prerequisite for the listed container engine tools. Please see the specific instructions for the tool of choice regarding Windows-specific prerequisites.

Getting Started

Getting Started - Linux or MacOS

Clone the git repository into a folder. For example:

# Set up some variables

# Create a folder to hold reference git repositories
mkdir -p ${REPO_DIR}

# Clone the repository into the reference area
git clone "${REPO_DIR}/${REPO_NAME}"

# Set the repo path in your shell for easier access
# Add this (and the variable settings above) to
# your ~/.bashrc, ~/.bash_profile, ~/.zshrc, or similar
# start-up scripts so that the ash tool is in your PATH
# after re-starting or starting a new shell.
export PATH="${PATH}:${REPO_DIR}/${REPO_NAME}"

# Execute the ash tool
ash --version

Getting Started - Windows

ASH uses containers, bash shell scripts, and multiple background processes running in parallel to run the multiple source code security scanning tools that it uses. Because of this, running ash from either a PowerShell or cmd shell on Windows is not possible. Furthermore, due to reliance on running containers, usually with Docker Desktop when running on Windows, there is an implicit dependency on having installed, configured, and operational a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2 environment on the Windows machine where ash will be run.

To use ash on Windows:

  • Install, configure, and test the WSL 2 environment on Windows
  • Install, configure, and test Docker Desktop for Windows, using the WSL 2 environment
  • Use the Windows Terminal program and open a command-line window to interact with the WSL 2 environment
  • Install and/or update the git client in the WSL 2 environment. This should be pre-installed, but you may need to update the version using the apt-get update command.

Once the WSL2 command-line window is open, follow the steps above in Getting Started - Linux or MacOS to install and run ash in WSL 2 on the Windows machine.

To run ash, open a Windows Terminal shell into the WSL 2 environment and use that command-line shell to run the ash command.

Note: when working this way, be sure to git clone any git repositories to be scanned into the WSL 2 filesystem. Results are un-predictable if repositories or file sub-trees in the Windows filesystem are scanned using ash that is running in the WSL 2 environment.

Tip: If you are using Microsoft VSCode for development, it is possible to configure a "remote" connection using VSCode into the WSL2 environment. By doing this, you can host your git repositories in WSL 2 and still work with them as you have in the past when they were in the Windows filesystem of your Windows machine.

Cloud9 Quickstart Guide

Follow the instruction in the quickstart page to deploy an AWS Cloud9 Environment with ASH pre-installed.

Using ash with pre-commit

The ash tool can be used interactively on a workstation or run using the pre-commit command. If pre-commit is used to run ash, then the pre-commit processing takes care of installing a copy of the ash git repository and setting up to run the ash program from that installed repository. Using pre-commit still requires usage of WSL 2 when running on Windows.

Using ash as a pre-commit hook enables development teams to use the ash tool in two ways. First, developers can use ash as a part of their local development process on whatever development workstation or environment they are using. Second, ash can be run in a build automation stage by running pre-commit run --hook-stage manual ash in build automation stage. When using pre-commit, run the pre-commit commands while in a folder/directory within the git repository that is configured with pre-commit hooks.

Refer to the pre-commit-hooks file for information about the pre-commit hook itself.

To configure a git repository to use the ash hook, start with the following pre-commit-config configuration:

  - repo:
    rev: '1.1.0-e-01Dec2023' # update with the latest tagged version in the repository
    - id: ash
      name: scan files using ash
      stages: [ manual ]
      # uncomment the line below if using "finch" on MacOS
      # args: [ "-f" ]

Once the .pre-commit-hooks.yaml file is updated, the ash tool can be run using the following command:

pre-commit run --hook-stage manual ash

Results from the run of the ash tool can be found in the aggregated_results.txt file the --output-dir folder/directory.

When ASH converts CloudFormation files into CDK and runs cdk-nag on them, the output of the cdk-nag check results are preserved in a 'ash_cf2cdk_output' folder/directory under --output-dir after the ASH scan is run. This folder/directory is in addition to the aggregated_results.txt file found in --output-dir.


# Getting help
ash -h

# Scan a directory
ash --source-dir /my/remote/files

# Save the final report to a different directory
ash --output-dir /my/remote/files

# Force rebuild the entire framework to obtain latests changes and up-to-date database
ash --force

# Force run scan for Python code
ash --source-dir . --ext py

* All commands can be used together.


        ash [OPTIONS] --source-dir /path/to/dir --output-dir /path/to/dir
        -v | --version           Prints version number.

        -p | --preserve-report   Add timestamp to the final report file to avoid overriding it after multiple executions.
        --source-dir             Path to the directory containing the code/files you wish to scan. Defaults to $(pwd)
        --output-dir             Path to the directory that will contain the report of the scans. Defaults to $(pwd)
        --ext | -extension       Force a file extension to scan. Defaults to identify files automatically.
        --force                  Rebuild the Docker images of the scanning tools, to make sure software is up-to-date.
        -q | --quiet             Don't print verbose text about the build process.
        -c | --no-color          Don't print colorized output.
        -o | --oci-runner        Use the specified OCI runner instead of docker to run the containerized tools.
        -f | --finch             Use finch instead of docker to run the containerized tools.
                                 WARNING: The '--finch|-f' option is deprecated and will be removed in a future
                                          release. Please switch to using '--oci-runner finch' in scripts instead.


  • Q: How to run ash on a Windows machine

    A: ASH on a windows machine

    • Install a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2 environment with a Ubuntu distribution. Be sure to use the WSL 2.
    • Install Docker Desktop for windows and activate the integration the WSL 2
    • Clone this git repo from a windows terminal via VPN (while in vpn it'll not connect to the repo directly from Ubuntu WSL 2).
    • Execute the helper tool from the folder downloaded in the previous step from the Ubuntu WSL.
  • Q: How to run ash in a Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipline?

    A: Check the ASH Pipeline solution

  • Q: How to run ash with finch or another Open Container Initiative (OCI) compatible tool.

    A: You can configure the OCI compatible tool to use with by using the environment variable ASH_OCI_RUNNER

  • Q: How to exclude files from scanning.

    A: ash will scan all the files in the folder specified in --source-dir, or the current directory if invoked without parameters. If the folder is a git repository, then ash will use the exclusions in your .gitignore configuration file. If you want to exclude any specific folder, it must be added to your git ignore list before invoking ash.

  • Q: ash reports there are not files to scan or you see a message stating warning: You appear to have cloned an empty repository.

    A: Ensure you're running ASH inside the folder you intend to scan or using the --source-dir parameter. If the folder where the files reside is part of a git repository, ensure the files are added (committed) before running ASH.


Create an issue here.


See CONTRIBUTING for information on how to contribute to this project.


See CONTRIBUTING for more information.


This library is licensed under the Apache 2.0 License. See the LICENSE file.